Staying ahead of the curve. How to be a better marketer in 2021 It’s safe to say 2020 has been a difficult year. It has thrown challenges at marketers from every angle. From budget and resource. To positioning and planning. At Pure360, our goal is always to help marketers to be the very best they can be. And given the obvious changes that all marketers have faced over the past six months, we wanted to reflect on what we have seen in the market. And highlight from our perspective, what marketers should do to improve their ability to compete in a post-Covid world. For marketers entering 2021. Better starts here. 1. Wipe the slate clean. Plan for a Covid future and embrace digital transformation Despite Covid-19 being a new event in the grand scheme of things. It is highly unlikely that we will be returning to normality any time soon. The life of a marketer has changed enormously during the pandemic. Meaning we should plan for a future that recognises Covid-19. And embrace change as a result. Because as of now, marketers are struggling to strike the right balance. Econsultancy have reported that only 14% of UK marketing campaigns are continuing as planned. And whilst activity has dramatically increased across digital media channels such as email, social, and broadcast media, other channels have slowed down or stopped entirely. Covid-19 represents a catalyst for significant digital transformation. Businesses who have previously spent years considering transformation are now looking to plan initiatives in a matter of weeks. An approach that poses a threat to marketers who don’t embrace change and adapt. For instance, digital interactions are twice as important for B2B since Covid-19. Meaning that businesses need to understand how they can deliver face to face interactions in a digital format. This could include using webinars, how-to videos, Q&A, live streaming, webcams, and podcasts. Source – McKinsey Furthermore, as a result of changing working practices, automation has become the primary delivery output and agility has become the most relevant KPI of company success. And whilst Covid-19 might not be around forever, the need to be agile and reactive to new and emerging threats will always remain. So marketers must wipe the slate clean and learn to adapt. 2. Be helpful. Be genuine Unfortunately, not every marketing campaign is honest. The industry can sometimes be plagued with smoke and mirrors. And marketing messages which don’t align with reality. With Covid-19, both marketers and consumers are paying more attention to the integrity of marketing messaging. And several brands are falling flat with their campaigns when they come across as disingenuous in their lack of support or their rush to jump on bandwagons. 92% of consumers believe that brands should continue advertising throughout the outbreak and be there for them. But consumers also want brands to represent something that’s meaningful and helpful. To provide a message of support and reassurance. To achieve this, here are some communication tips for you: Do: Show empathy and reactivity Be creative and react to the situation Be self-aware – ask yourselves “What value do I provide? Is it relevant? What problem is this solving? How will this make my audience feel?” Reduce choice anxiety and complexity Adjust AI recommendation algorithms Check your social skills – ask yourselves “Does this message fit the context? Are my jokes funny (anymore)?” Continuously think “How will this make my audience feel?” Don’t Send emails just for the sake of it Send overly long, sanctimonious monologues Deliver soundbites, offer impractical advice, or provide meaningless gestures Sound like a politician Play on people’s sympathies To further help you, here are some examples of delivering balanced, straightforward communications which are clear in purpose and value. And do not over-exaggerate responses to Covid-19. 3. Be agile and experimental Agility has become one of the most important KPIs to measure a businesses’ future success likelihood. Many businesses have been forced to rapidly change and re-invent themselves. Which has shown them what is possible to achieve, even with half the marketing resource. It has enabled teams to question the true value of marketing investments. And also where marketers should be spending their time – which should now be focused around being agile and experimental. Source – McKinsey Marketers need to understand that buying habits have changed drastically. And will continue to change. Therefore they must be reactive to change in the future. As while we hope Covid-19 is a one time event. Other crises will arise, all of which demand boldness and learning. Here are some tips to help you achieve just that: Update your KPIs to reflect the new business goals Map out your new customer journey Throw out the old routine and start again. Identify and remove items which deliver no value. Re-iterate on a regular basis Focus on where you can deliver value and impact quickly and effectively Include test schedules in your BAU Embrace design thinking Look for opportunities to differentiate, create value, and automate 4. Be data driven Every organisation needs to investigate the effects of the current crisis on their business. And derive the best possible measures based on a clear outside-in perspective. In these times, decision-making needs to involve a fact-based approach. This should include the gathering of valuable information to assess different options, whilst avoiding biased data usage. However, it is not unusual for businesses in critical situations to rely solely on their managements’ experience. Or even just a gut feeling. Never has there been a more important time to rely on your data to drive quick decision making. Insight-driven businesses take decisions more analytically. And have principles in place that favour superior analytical decision-making. They embed analysis, data, and reasoning into the decision-making process, every day. Here are some simple ways you can become more data driven in your day to day decision making: Ask the right questions. Focus on what is driving influence and impact. Not necessarily the end goal Gather the right information Make sure the right actions are being taken To achieve all of the above marketers need more agile ways of being data driven. And it is surprising how many opportunities are available for businesses to achieve this in a short period of time. Here are some of our suggestions to help you get started: Remember silos aren’t as rigid as they appear Empower front-line teams with decision making authority Be comfortable with incomplete data or data imperfections Look for quick ways to achieve the majority of intended use cases (80/20 rule) Prioritise low hanging fruits Analytics has to be prioritised to enable quicker decision making Look deeper into your customer behaviour 5. Be automated and personalised Nearly 70% of companies that use advanced personalisation – that delivers multiple personalised experiences across the customer journey – achieve an ROI of 200:1 or more as a result. Furthermore, those who personalise across as many touch points as possible – including shopping, fulfilment and marketing channels – are more likely to achieve a higher ROI. With 38% being likely to see an ROI of 400:1 or more. And if that hasn’t convinced you. Brands that create personalised experiences are seeing revenue increase by 6% to 10% and two to three times faster than those that don’t. Therefore, personalisation leaders stand to capture a significant share of category profits in the new age of individualised brands. Whereas slow movers will lose customers, share, and profits. As a result, many businesses are taking an entirely new view of personalisation and it’s value to supporting the entire customer journey. Source – McKinsey For those who haven’t yet started, automation is a clear value driver and efficiency mechanism to enable marketing teams to operate more productively in lean times. Businesses can use automation and predictive analytics to quickly and effectively isolate difficulties. And with journey builder and integration technologies, it’s very easy to start planning and building journeys for all kinds of interactions. Source – Pure360 Ai Marketing Platform : Journey Automations We recommend looking for opportunities to standardise what you’re learning to support scaling digital solutions across core business processes. And focus activity on creating impactful content rather than creating automations for the sake of it. Teams are smaller but workloads haven’t necessarily decreased. So businesses need to focus time on what is most impactful or useful for their customers. For those who already have automations, now is the time to review existing journey automations. Source – Pure360 – Automate across the customer lifecycle Given the degree of complexity created by scaled experimentation, businesses need to find ways to simplify and focus to avoid being overwhelmed. Some of that is done for them as the crisis closes many physical channels and has made others impossible to access. But further streamlining is required in terms of what is working, what isn’t, and why. 6. Find adaptable partners There are opportunities out there to massively lower marketing costs with a new technology partner. Or to ditch unwieldy and over-complicated systems and processes for more agile ones. But above all, your experience in getting through this period and beyond relies also on your technology and agency partners. And your relationship with them. Partners need to be agile enough to be adaptable to changing times. We are seeing a lot of prospects ditch old models and set-ups which are unfit for purpose, and instead are looking for new partners who want to come on that journey. So, increase your network. The more quickly learning occurs. The faster performance improves. To summarise Market share will likely be eaten away by Amazon unless businesses act now to engage their customer base ahead of any future waves. It’s often the case in human affairs that the greatest lessons emerge from the most devastating times of crises. We believe that businesses that can simultaneously attend to and rise above the critical and day-to-day demands of their crisis response can gain unique insights. These can both inform their response. And help ensure that their digital future is more robust coming out of Covid-19 than it was coming in.